Making projection of hard power possible

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Army photograph by Staff Sgt. Alex Manne

A U.S. Army civil affairs Soldier attached to 3rd Cavalry Regiment conducts security during a convoy halt at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., Feb. 12, 2016. The National Training Center conducts tough, realistic, training to prepare brigade combat teams and other units for combat.

Our nation today faces unprecedented threats to its sovereignty, both domestically and internationally. As our Army rises to meet these challenges through proactive engagement, it is the responsibility of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics & Technology) (OASA(ALT)) to provide end-to-end acquisition management, developing and delivering the materiel solutions that empower our Soldiers to succeed, no matter the mission.

In keeping with this year’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition theme, “America’s Army: Ready Today, Preparing for the Future,” the OASA(ALT) stands at the cutting edge of acquisition development and Science & Technology, ensuring readiness for today’s Warfighters while driving overmatch well into the future.

From the aircraft our Soldiers fly, to the tanks they drive, and the armor they wear, our Army’s projection of hard power is made possible by an acquisition community that is working constantly and stands always-ready, creating the solution space necessary to fight our Nation’s wars for many years to come.

Effective acquisition through total lifecycle management
The crux of Army acquisition is Total Lifecycle Management, which takes a ‘cradle-to-grave’ perspective when evaluating materiel solutions. This acquisition philosophy is essential for driving innovation, ensuring realizable and sustainable development, and providing the logistics tail needed to support materiel solutions throughout their operational life. As such, effective acquisition is Total Lifecycle Management.

The Army Acquisition Community recognizes the importance of Total Lifecycle Management to effective materiel development. In particular, Total Lifecycle Management provides a space for continued process improvement in acquisition, relying on the experience of acquisition professionals while leveraging lessons learned from past and present conflicts. The importance of past efforts to present and future activities cannot be overstated.

Over the past 15 years, a nation at war necessitated Congressional and military focus on the Warfighter, as well as robust economic support of the war effort. In the early years of engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Army and the Joint Services relied heavily on robust Congressional appropriations to fund their engagements, and faced little resistance in receiving the resources needed to support all materiel endeavors.

However, since 2011, the last full year of engagement in Iraq, cuts to the Army’s top line budget have reduced funding for Acquisition activities. In particular, sustainment efforts in the Army’s Personnel and Operations & Maintenance accounts have pushed the Army’s Research, Development & Acquisition activities into a ‘bill-payer’ role. Corresponding decrements have forced the Army acquisition community to think proactively, developing new and creative measures to ensure that materiel solutions’ development continues at pace.

The Total Lifecycle Management discipline is essential to these new problem-solving efforts, as a long-term acquisition perspective allows the Army to prepare for the future fight while remaining invested in the materiel needs of present conflicts. Thankfully, the past 15 years of war have built up a community of acquisition professionals with a knowledge base well suited to the task. The Army acquisition community today is battle hardened from the longest period of continued military engagement in American history, and understands the unique challenges of managing programs throughout the acquisition lifecycle.

I am pleased that our acquisition community has made such strides in this challenging climate, meeting materiel solution needs in a manner that will ensure Army overmatch well into the future. Of note, the Army’s recent successes on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program, which is projected to deliver more than 50,000 vehicles ahead of schedule and under budget, are illustrative of the great work our professionals continue to execute in difficult terrain. These positive efforts also highlight the many benefits of a Total Lifecycle Management perspective, and of a robust Acquisition knowledge base, which can effectively forecast the materiel solution space needed to fight present and future conflicts.

Rapid capabilities office
An important enabler to our acquisition efforts will be a newly-established Army Rapid Capabilities Office (ARCO), which will expedite acquisition of select capabilities to meet Warfighters’ immediate and near-term needs. ARCO’s primary focus will be on materiel capabilities that enable the Army to fight in contested environments. To accomplish this mission, ARCO will be empowered to explore and recommend new techniques for the Army to rapidly develop, acquire and field such capabilities, while informing procurement strategies for enduring programs. ARCO’s rapid prototyping efforts will enable the Army to experiment, evolve and deliver technologies in real time to address threats faced today, and to shape smarter acquisition for the future.

The ARCO will ensure that our Warfighters are equipped to proactively engage the most current threats at the moment of need, and in a manner that ensures their overmatch against emerging adversarial tactics. This effort is of particularly pressing importance against today’s enemies, who seek asymmetric advantages and leverage rapidly-proliferating commercial technologies in an attempt to weaken our national and military defenses.

Key operating principles for ARCO include a short and narrow chain of command, overarching programmatic insight, early and prominent warfighter involvement, a collaborative integrated team of functional specialists within a single office, and funding stability. ARCO will leverage innovation by other government agencies and industry partners, as well as warfighter feedback, to deliver solutions on an accelerated timeline.

The ASA(ALT) family
As with all military enterprises, the acquisition community’s most valuable asset is its people. Our Soldiers and civilians come from all walks of life, with diverse backgrounds and unique skillsets that qualify them to engage on the most-pressing defense issues of our time. As the Acting Army Acquisition Executive, I have committed this office to ensuring that each and every member of the Army Acquisition Corps, from junior staff Noncommissioned Officers to senior acquisition leaders, is treated with the respect and fair treatment she or he deserves. Such an attitude continues to foster a positive climate among our professionals, whose talents and expertise are further emboldened by strong workplace camaraderie and a culture of mutual support.

In a particular way, this office has worked to advance the careers of its professional members. Critical assignments, workforce development, and professional management are helping to ensure that the Army’s Acquisition Enterprise will continue to provide meaningful career opportunities to all employees. Many of our professionals have spent decades in the acquisition community, and their own career successes make them incredibly-valuable assets to our team, as well as strong role models and mentors to our younger members.

As the current Administration comes to a close, it is important that this office remember and continue to honor several of the ASA(ALT) family’s most valued members who have passed away in the past several years. Honorable Claude Bolton, Major General Harry Greene, and Mr. Tom Mullins brought their tremendous talents to bear in service of our Soldiers, our Army, and our nation. They are sorely missed by so many who knew them well, and their legacy lives on through the many Soldiers and civilians whom they mentored and guided, and in the gratitude of the many Warfighters who have benefitted from their support.

Conclusion
The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics & Technology) continues to provide cutting-edge support to our men and women in uniform defending freedom around the globe. As such, the enabling of the materiel enterprise is essential, and continued support to our Acquisition activities must continue at pace. Through a culture of Total Lifecycle Management, the establishment of the Army’s Rapid Capabilities Office, and ongoing support for our ASA(ALT) Family, I know that this organization, and our Army, will continue to serve the interests of the United States, now and into the future. Army Strong!